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Does Ayoze Perez deserve all the hate?

A player once wanted by both Real Madrid and Barcelona signed for the Toon is also one of the most hated players.

Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Let me set the record straight on my views on Ayoze Perez. I like him, a lot. I went on the podcast and even stated that I’d have him in the starting lineup. But that doesn’t mean I think he’s a quality midfielder, or even striker. I think the player has qualities that I want in a player that’s going to be playing for Newcastle United.

In the match against Watford, Ayoze Perez scored the winning goal to get the magpies their first victory of the season to kickstart what will be a tumultuous battle for safety in the Premier League. Does one goal make Perez Newcastle United’s savior? Heck, no. Does it mean he has the ability to score some goals? It’s not like he hasn’t scored goals in the past.

In every season for Newcastle United, Perez’s scoreline goes something like this: 7, 6, 9, 8.

Southampton FC v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

By no means are those eye-watering numbers, but they are more consistent than most strikers have been for the magpies in the past few years under manager Rafa Benitez. I have for a while believed that Perez’s decision to sign for Newcastle was more detrimental to him than for the Toon. He signed for a manager that was never going to be able to fully get the best out of him, despite him being able to get immediate playing time in the most competitive football league in the world.

But one thing is for certain. Those numbers aren’t terrible. They’re consistent with Perez’s ability. He’s not the most consistent player on the pitch, but in my eyes he is one of the hardest working guys on the pitch, as well as a quality option to pick up the slack when our strikers are failing to score. He did this at the end of last season when he went on a tear. Where was the hate then?

Is he Ben Arfa? Is he Demba Ba? He’s neither of them, and I think we expect too much when we want him to emulate one or the other. Perez has shown up in crucial matches that make him good enough to be on this team, and good enough to earn the respect of fans who have continuously been giving him hate because he lacks the ability of some of our favorite players to play in the black and white.

Say what you will about Perez, but there is a place for him on the pitch. But being the number 10 just isn’t that. Perez is not a talented creator. It’s his biggest flaw as a player, and I believe that the position is being wasted by giving Perez that role just to find a place for him in the squad.

I think Perez is a goalscorer before anything else. And while he has failed to score more than nine goals in single season, I think he’s shown flashes of the ability to do just that. But he’s not going to score those goals from midfield as a “creator”. I think Perez is a finisher first and foremost, and I’m ready to take flak for saying this:

Maybe we should put him up front and bench the hell out of Rondon?